New wave art: Britain's coast revitalised

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

If you go down to the sea today you're in for a big surprise, as artists like Gavin Turk and Tracey Emin mix with the sand and arcades

It is already being described as the call of the coast. Britain's seaside towns are increasingly shedding their kiss-me-quick, slot-machine image, with visitors now as likely to encounter a piece of contemporary art by the likes of Sir Peter Blake or Gavin Turk as they are a Donald McGill postcard.

In a 21st-century inversion, while McGill's postcards have enjoyed a showing at Tate Modern in London, works normally associated with museums are scattered along promenades, piers and beaches.

With the fifth Whitstable Biennale in full swing this weekend, various venues in the Kent town – famous for its oysters – will host an extra 25,000 visitors who are expected to spend about £700,000.

And just down the Kent coast, Margate is building a museum to house works by J M W Turner – one of the greatest British artists – which is due to open next year, backed by the artist Tracey Emin, who grew up in the town.

Next month, the coastal towns that make up the Haven Ports in Suffolk and Essex will host an art exhibition curated by the former YBA Gavin Turk, with the sites linked by a bicycle ride. And in Bexhill, on the south coast, the renowned Art Deco De La Warr Pavilion has been refurbished at a cost of £8m and turned into an art gallery, while visitors to the Lancashire resort of Blackpool will find a Sir Peter Blake sculpture on the promenade.

There are also art events in Hastings, Folkestone – which has its own Triennial – Leigh-on-Sea, Cromer and Eastbourne – not to mention the Tate museum in St Ives.

Patrick Brown, of the Coastal Communities Alliance, a regeneration body for seaside towns, said that the seaside was a natural home for art, which is key to reviving the flagging fortunes of Britain's coast.

"The seaside hasn't really benefited from 20 years of economic growth," he said. "They have to maximise the reason they exist, which is to create happiness and pleasure. That isn't tangible in terms of money. But art not only attracts visitors – as well as a different string of visitor – it redefines the seaside and boosts local morale."

Gavin Turk added that his project had involved the local community in Jaywick, Essex. "At a point after the war lots of people who had beach huts at Jaywick stayed there," he said. "So suddenly you have this whole community who live in these tiny houses on the beach front. Then the whole economy went and there was no work and in the end you have this deprived community living in beach huts – tiny little houses. But they have a really strong sense of community. For the art project all the people in the community came right into the project and wanted to know what was going on. It's a fascinating place."

Earlier this year, Tracey Emin installed a neon art work on the front of the customs house in Margate as part of the Turner Contemporary project. A new gallery is being built to house works by J M W Turner, who painted many works from the Kent resort.

"Wherever art goes regeneration follows," Emin said. "Art always gets there first. Liverpool is a really good example of that. The Turner Centre is the only thing that Margate has had for years. I think there should be an inquiry into why and how Margate was allowed to decline."

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat